Each system's battery was run down completely and recharged before each of our battery life tests. We used a ~30% screen brightness setting on the Eee PC, which is easily readable under normal indoor lighting. That brightness level is roughly equivalent to the 40% brightness setting we used on the dv2, LT3103, Aspire One 751, and UL30A. The 50% brightness levels on the X-Slim and Timeline are the closest to the Eee PC's 30% setting, so that's what we used for those units. However, the Timeline's Power Saving mode does lower the system's brightness slightly.
Note that the Samsung NC20 we tested was a foreign model; domestic units have a 15% larger battery. Also, we didn't test the NC20 in its manually-invoked "max battery" mode. For both of these reasons, you could surely achieve longer run times with an NC20 than what you'll see below. See our NC20 review for more details.
For our web surfing test, we opened a Firefox window with two tabs: one for TR and another for Shacknews. These tabs were set to reload automatically every 30 seconds over Wi-Fi, and we left Bluetooth enabled as well. Our second battery life test involves movie playback. Here, we looped a standard-definition video of the sort one might download off BitTorrent, using Windows Media Player for playback. We disabled Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for this test.
Our web surfing test is pretty demanding, but the UL30A still managed nearly 10 hours of run time when in Battery Saving mode. Even in performance mode, the system ran for seven-and-a-half hourstwo more than the best our Timeline config had to offer.
Interestingly, the UL30A's battery life is much shorter in our movie playback test, likely because the hard drive is constantly in use streaming the movie. You'd think, with 4GB of RAM at its disposal, Windows would just load the ~700MB video clip into memory and shut down the hard drive. Guess not.
While the UL30A's edge over the Timeline isn't as dramatic here, the Asus still runs for about and hour and a half longer. There isn't much of an advantage to switching to Battery Saving mode, though.
External operating temperatures
External operating temperatures were measured with an IR thermometer placed 1" from the surface of the system. Tests were conducted after the UL30A had run our web surfing battery life test for a couple of hours.
The UL30A is a little warmer in its top-left corner, near where all the hot air hits the exhaust port. Otherwise, the system runs pretty cool. I've had it on my lap for a couple of hours now, and my thighs are only slightly warm.
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